“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1
In general, I am not a fan of summer and its relentless heat. But there are a few consolations, as I do love the fresh vegetables. And the peaches, nothing says July in North Carolina like a perfect, sweet smelling, succulent, flavorful peach on my breakfast cereal.
I also love the way the house and garden look, splashed with tree-filtered summer sunshine in the middle of the woods, with so many millions of leaves featuring every possible shade of green.
So while yesterday’s post may have bemoaned the way COVID is messing with the way church plays out (Sunday Mornings With My Church), this Sunday actually turned out, well, peachy.
Worship was a really well-balanced combination of praise, prayer, and word – you can check it out here. Rebekah and I shared communion, along with who knows how many other people – near and far – joining us on line via the big television in the living room. Then I turned on my iPad to Zoom with the Practical Christianity Sunday school class for fellowship, study, discussion, and prayer.
My class is a faithful and insightful group, and we always enjoy deeply meaningful conversation. We ended up talking about the interplay between faith and freedom, using a couple of powerful scriptures to help us along.
- First, Galatians 5:1: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
- And then – because sometimes living in freedom gets us into a little self-focused trouble – the bridge between Romans 7:21 and 8:1-2: “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me…” But, fortunately for us, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
What Freedom Means:
We considered two kinds of freedom. There is the amazing gift of freedom enshrined in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the foundational documents that first set our journey into motion as an ongoing experiment in the intentional application of such principles to day-to-day life in these United States. America is still a work in progress in that regard.
Then there is the kind of freedom that Christ gives us, which is the freedom from other kinds of bondage, chains that restrict us from enjoying the promise inherent as citizens of this great country. The Jesus quality of freedom makes the United States kind of freedom possible, and without it not only are we hampered ourselves, but – so often – we make it impossible for others too.
Simply put, sin ruins freedom, and it ruins it for everyone!
I believe a great part of our crisis as a nation is rooted in both the failure of people to place God at the center of their lives… and the failure of much of the witness of The Church in terms of offering a compelling invitation.
Freedom and liberty do not simply exist as a magical remedy for all our ills, they must be loved, studied, owned, understood, and intentionally applied. And I do not believe such a task is possible without the help of God.